Life before Covid was very different for Scrumptious. As you know I am based in Sheffield, and pre-Covid we would regularly attend local food markets in Netheredge, Sharrowvale, Sheffield City Center and Fox Valley. We would also travel a little further afield, and would attend street markets and food festivals at Bakewell, Belper, Lichfield, York etc.
I just absolutely loved the buzz of a market, it was really good meeting so many people, and the thing I enjoyed most was listening to people talk about my brownies and cakes and meeting repeat customers who had bought my chocolate brownies in the past and wanted them as a brownie gift for a loved one or relative.
The days leading up to a market were frantic with little sleep and lots of baking and organising, making sure we had everything, from packing our brownies gift boxes, making sure we had enough gift wrapping, ensuring all the gluten free brownies were completely separate from the Vegan brownies and they had their own knives, spatulas, as well as an endless supply of kitchen rolls, paper bags, gloves napkins and a hundred and one other items which if you forgot just one, you can guarantee you would absolutely regret all day.
Arriving at the market was always around 7 or 8 O'clock, sometimes after travelling a couple of hours and all you wanted was a quick coffee fix, so the coffee flask was always the last thing into the car, and the first thing out.
I think turning up at the markets and seeing the lovely people who organise the events is a bit like first day of term, everyone looking round to see who was there, where you were setting up, was it a good location, where can I park the car after unloading, what were my neighbours selling? but like school, it was also so nice to see all the other traders I knew, or had seen before, and many I had bought things from, such as incredible curries, vegetables, and many quirky little Nic Naks
I remember the last market at Sharrowvale, when I bought a little vegetable spiralizer to turn carrots and cucumbers into lovely shapes for salads and something that would keep the boys fascinated with and everything was spiralized for months after, it is these and many other hand crafted goods which you only really see at markets, as many of the traders like myself made home made goods you wouldn't really see on the high street, so it was often a case of "Ummm I must pop across to that stall later" and buy whatever it was I had seen or bought before, because the food markets really do have such an eclectic mix, and so unique to markets.
So, after a flask of coffee, it was down to the main event, setting up the stall and the Gazebo! and for anyone who has been camping, and it is raining or windy, you will know the stress and antics involved in trying to set up a 3 square metre gazebo, which is actually more like a kite, and many a time I have been like Mary Poppins hanging on for my life thinking I will soon be airborne!
I am so fortunate to have so many helpers, my family are amazing and Scrumptious by Lucy would not be here without their support. At every market you will see them alongside me setting up the stall, serving customers, slicing the cakes and enjoying meeting our lovely customers. and once you are set up and the cakes are looking as pretty as a picture awaiting your happy customers.
The stall favourites besides the chocolate brownies and blondies, were the lemon drizzle and carrot cake. The kids (and I) love the rocky road, but you would be missing out if you didn’t try the carrot cake.
In March 2020, Covid came along and with market restrictions I had to think how I could adapt Scrumptious by Lucy so that my customers could still enjoy Scrumptious treats and I could still run a business. I am very proud of the stall aesthetics, it was so important to me for my stall to really show how beautiful the cakes and brownies were and for my cakes to look as fresh and amazing as they taste and deliver the Scrumptious by Lucy experience as a whole.
For me there was only one option and that was to create a website, an E-Commerce shop, and a reliable brownies postal delivery service, and that was something I really just took for granted and hoped would just happen, but it has since gone on to cause many a sleepless night, until finally I switched to a courier service and although it personally costs me more with subsidising the true delivery cost to my customers, I have found it to be far more reliable.
The first thing I had to consider when I first looked at how could I send brownies by post, was how would I package them so they arrived in the same condition as they came out of the oven, I spent weeks sending off to various manufacturers and suppliers with different dimensions and ideas until eventually I found the perfect brownies gift box which looked pretty, but could stand the rigors of postman Pat and his black and white cat Jess sitting on them., and the good thing with experimenting with all the sizes and sending out text boxes of brownies to friends and relatives around the country, the brownies gift boxes, could be delivered through the letterbox, so if the recipient was out, this wasn't a problem, and the letterbox brownies arrived in the same condition they were sent.
The cakes however, were a different matter, with many of them such as the Lemon drizzle having a soft gooey topping, if they touched the lid, or wrapping, they wouldn't meet the standards I wanted, so I then had to adapt the recipes from a soft cake, into a fudgy brownie, which wasn't dense or hard or lacked texture.
After many trials with adapting recipes, the lemon blondie was born, I was so pleased, it kept that gorgeous fresh taste, found in the lemon drizzle cake, both of which which I make with my own home made fresh lemon curd so that it retains a delicious lemony aroma and a sharp zingy taste, this worked perfectly.
My latest adaptation was one of the markets favourites, the Orange and Almond cake which I have finally converted into an Orange and Almond blondie, this was only launched this week, I cannot tell you how pleased I am with it, and would love your feedback.
I know this week, there has been a slight setback to full re-opening, and the food festivals and street markets getting back into full swing and already a few provisional market dates have been announced such as Sharrow Vale Market on Sunday 18th July, and I am hoping Nether Edge will soon follow as well as York and Lichfield markets and the ever popular Belper Food, Real Ale & Craft festival
I am looking forward to attending markets and for Scrumptious by Lucy to deliver our amazing new range of blondies and brownies alongside some of our former favourite bakes.
Keep your eyes on our social media pages and website for our next market, I can’t wait to meet you.